Publisher's Note:  

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by The Dial Press

The Dream Life of Astronauts: Stories

by Patrick Ryan

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Overall Review:  

What a fun, engaging read! Sometimes short story collections just don't grab my interest right away and I end up wishing I had never started reading them in the first place. This was not the case with The Dream Life of Astronauts, which is a huge plus. 

The stories in this collection are fast-paced, and don't necessarily follow any kind of thread, except for a few characters and towns mentioned here and there that are later repeated in a different story. I could tell that the same person wrote all of them, even though I have never read anything by Patrick Ryan before. 

It's hard for me to choose which story I liked the best, because just when I started to sympathize with someone, a flaw in their character would shine through and I would be somewhat appalled at who they really were. There are several likeable characters in this collection though, I just didn't happen to be the best at scouting them out. For example, one story about a young girl who lives with her grandmother seems innocent enough, but in the end you see how the young child is not well behaved at all.

Although the title of this book may make a potential reader think it is all about astronauts, that isn't the case at all. There are a few stories centered around astronauts, but the title gets its name from one of the short stories within this collection (which is often the case with short story collections, in my experience).

I really enjoyed this book, and will definitely be seeking out books from this author in the future. It was very unpredictable and I was never bored, which equals a very good read to me. 

Review of Advanced Reader's Copy

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  11 religious exclamations; 5 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names; 1 scatological words; 10 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 6 F-Word derivatives. 

Violence/Gore:  A minor mentions watching a movie where violence occurs, including a man beating up his wife and a person being shot; a person is said to have "dropped dead"; a child's father is mentioned as having been run over and killed by a train, this is mentioned twice; two boys bully peer (tease, trick, force him to eat gross things, etc.) and some description is given of the mean things they do and say; a man is reported to have been in a car accident and injured(minor). 

Sex/Nudity:  A child observes his mother participating in seeing another man, but the child does not realize what is going on; a woman leaves her husband; sexual innuendo between an adult male and a minor boy is implied; a minor briefly describes a fantasy between him and an adult man; a boy cuts out the outline of a male he admires and the males genitals are mentioned; a brief sexual scene involving two adults and a male minor is given, nudity and sexual touching occurs; a minor mentions having sex with her boyfriend and how she is now pregnant; a topless man is mentioned to be seen on a poster by a minor; a couple who is having an affair kisses; a woman thinks a man is sexy, later she goes to a hotel with him where he intends they will make love, but she stops him; a porn magazine is mentioned.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Bullying between minors, sexual identity/homosexuality, personal crises, underage drinking.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults smoke; adults drink liquor; minors are served alcohol; a character is referred to as drunk.

Reviewed By Lydia
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